How to Lead Productive Company Meetings Online

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) forces more employees to work from home, businesses are adapting to new remote work business models as quickly and effectively as possible. Many of you are already adjusting to a workforce that performs some duties at home. Although technology makes this process easier, organizations are looking for ways to replicate their in-office culture, including moving face-to-face meetings to audio and video conference calls.
Technology-based meetings are not always the easiest to conduct, especially if you’re not accustomed to them. It can be more difficult to make sure everyone has a chance to speak up, to read body language, and/or to make sure that each attendee is paying full attention. We all know how easy it is to check email or browse online when no one can see you. So, if you conduct virtual meetings the same exact way you do in-person meetings, the result will likely be less engagement and therefore an inefficient use of your team’s time. By following these two simple steps, you can run productive video meetings where employees remain attentive, contribute, and finish the call ready to get things done.

1. Set clear expectations.

It’s important for the leader to set basic ground rules, such as asking attendees to join the call on time, closing out email and internet browsers, keeping their video on, and muting their microphones when they are not speaking. You might consider instructing employees to raise their hands when they want to contribute or ask questions. Setting clear expectations sets the tone for your team to be engaged, and shows that you respect their time and perspective.

2. Focus on dialogue and interactions.

During your virtual meeting, you’ll be sharing information just like you would in a face-to-face meeting. The information flow should be two-way — it is essential to encourage questions and discussion from all attendees. When planning the meeting, structure the agenda to discourage any one person from dominating the conversation. Predetermine which team members might be subject matter experts with information valuable to the group.
Now that we’ve discussed what you can do to ensure that your virtual meetings are as productive as your in-person meetings, let’s focus on one of the most important meetings: the Company Meeting. It’s likely that you’ve already led at least one Company Meeting to discuss the COVID-19 situation. Your staff members are living through uncertain times and are starving for information. Over the next several months, you’ll need to meet regularly with your entire team to discuss what’s happening currently (in your practice as well as the industry, your city/state, and the rest of the world), and what needs to happen moving forward. If your practice is currently closed, then your first Company Meeting upon reopening will be crucial in setting the stage for how your practice will emerge from this crisis and be successful in the future.
There are several key topics that Owners should cover during their upcoming Company Meetings:
  • The Current State: Where is our practice now and how are we preparing to come out of the pandemic?
  • The Future State: Where is the industry headed and what’s our company vision for how we will thrive?
  • The “New” Customer: How do we prepare for customers who may think differently about their needs and expectations? How will they define value?
  • The Comeback Plan: What are our steps to get back on track, and what are the expectations for each team member’s contributions moving forward?
  • Goals for 2020: What are the revised annual targets, and how do we plan to ramp up and recover lost business?
  • KPI Tracking: What are the key indicators that identify how we’re tracking progress toward our desired goals?
  • Mindset: How do we need to change the way we think about how we do our jobs?
  • Individual Productivity: How do we increase and track productivity while maintaining high levels of patient care?
  • Training: How do we ensure each staff member continues to develop his/her skills to be as efficient as possible while prioritizing patient care?

Consistency of communication is critical, so you should hold these meetings on a routine basis. Partner with your Consult YHN Account Manager to develop a schedule that works best for you and your team.

In future Company Meetings, revisit the same themes:

  • Discuss industry updates and the impact on the business
  • Reinforce the importance of what you do for patients
  • Reinforce the emergence of the “new” patient and his/her changing expectations
  • Emphasize what the goals are and how the practice is performing against those goals
  • Review your comeback plan and adjust as necessary
  • Emphasize everyone’s role in achieving the plan
  • Motivate your staff to reach the practice’s goals together as a team

As Owners and leaders, communication with your team is the most important element in helping your staff work through this crisis. Their lives have changed and they’re looking to you to lead them through the uncertainty. Their ability to handle anxiety and fear about the future is affected by what you say and how you act in navigating through an uncertain future. Right now, your words must lead to action. Now more than ever, your staff needs to know the “why” behind what they do to give purpose to their work and exemplary service to your patients.

If you have any questions about how to effectively conduct your Company Meetings, reach out to your Account Manager for guidance!

About the Author

Kenneth Gregory joined Consult YHN in 2014 and currently serves as a Training Manager in the West Region. He is a retail veteran, having previously worked for such giants as Target, Starbucks, and CVS in multiple leadership roles. Ken rarely puts pen to paper but is always thinking about how to make businesses thrive by leveraging the best asset within their four walls: their people. He works with field staff but is equally comfortable in front of audiology practice employees at all levels. Ken also loves an audience and enjoys being a classroom facilitator. While taking topics like this seriously, Ken likes to laugh at himself on occasion. However, his greatest gift might be his ability to get his three-month-old grandson to laugh.

Block Scheduling: Questions to Ask Yourself Now to Prepare for the Future

When building our new home, the first thing they put down was the foundation. Homes in Texas aren’t built with basements, so pouring a concrete slab seemed like it should’ve been a quick and easy process. But it took two whole weeks while I watched the contractors level, spread tension cables, pour the concrete, and conduct four inspections. I didn’t realize that Texas had such sandy and shifting soil. The proper slab, while not the most glamorous part of my home, was both the most complicated and essential piece. Without it, our beautiful new home wouldn’t be able to stand the test of time.

A hearing clinic is no different. Your business needs a sturdy foundation to withstand the shifting sands of an ever-changing industry. And few things have changed both the industry and business, in general, more than the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The foundation of a practice’s success is its schedule. It provides the template for growth and helps to drive revenue and profit. The Consult YHN Block Schedule has been the bedrock of practices for over 25 years, and the need now is greater than ever. Although times have certainly changed, our Block Schedule process is both structured and flexible enough to remain a business-standard.

As part of a comprehensive comeback plan, Owners need to:

  1. Determine the “catch up” goals necessary to recover lost business and hit their revised 2020 financial targets.
  2. Calculate the number of revenue-generating appointments (or opportunities) required to recover the lost revenue and achieve the full year targets.
  3. Create the scheduling capacity to best serve customers and reach those goals.

The Block Schedule serves as the visual representation of the structure necessary to make your comeback plan work. Without it, practices risk making an uncertain financial situation even worse.

The Block Scheduling process is time-tested with proven results. The post-COVID-19 customer might have understandable concerns about being in close proximity to others in a waiting room. Practices must be sensitive to these concerns, and work with their Consult YHN Account Manager to determine how to address them.

When it comes to scheduling, below are items you should consider…

As you revise the Block Schedule template…

  • Do I need to think differently about the space in my waiting room? How should I schedule appointments to limit social contact?
  • Do I need to create different types of appointments to meet the needs of different patients where some are comfortable in my waiting room and some are not? How many onsite appointments do I need? How many virtual ones?
  • Do I eliminate walk-in hours to prevent multiple people from showing up at the same time and crowding my waiting room? Or do I leverage technology to conduct virtual walk-in hours and minimize customer overlap?
  • Is Telehealth a necessity for my business and my patients right now?
  • How long should each appointment be?

When implementing the Block Schedule…

  • What does my patient prioritization process need to look like? Where do I place new patients, existing patients, Out of Warranty patients, and repairs? Does everyone on my staff know the importance of each opportunity type?
  • Have I set expectations with my staff about having a sense of urgency to fill the opportunities on my schedule?
  • Are we using a waiting list to pull appointments forward to fill opportunities and to better serve our patients?
  • Should I think differently about having a companion for appointments? Should I require onsite Third Party companions, or should I also consider using video technology such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangouts?
  • How do we minimize no-shows and cancellations? Is my current process for confirming appointments effective?
  • Is my front office staff attending Consult YHN teletrainings to sharpen their skills on the Block Scheduling process?
  • How can learning and following the Professional Sales Presentation (PSP) allow my providers to effectively use appointment time and maximize the schedule’s potential?

When monitoring the effectiveness of your revised scheduling procedures…

  • Am I using the Daily Huddle to monitor staff behaviors and track scheduling outcomes?

At Consult YHN, we’re helping our Associates prepare their schedules to thrive in this new business environment. For many Owners, implementing a Block Schedule may have been uncomfortable or considered unnecessary in the past. But due to COVID-19, many “nice to do” processes are now “must do.”

The most successful practices will be the ones who commit now to making the changes needed for success in the future. Defining and implementing a Block Schedule will help you recover lost business and position your practice for long term success.

Contact your Account Manager to create your Block Schedule today!

About the Author

Kenneth Gregory joined Consult YHN in 2014 and currently serves as a Training Manager in the West Region. He is a retail veteran, having previously worked for such giants as Target, Starbucks, and CVS in multiple leadership roles. Ken rarely puts pen to paper but is always thinking about how to make businesses thrive by leveraging the best asset within their four walls: their people. He works with field staff but is equally comfortable in front of audiology practice employees at all levels. Ken also loves an audience and enjoys being a classroom facilitator. While taking topics like this seriously, Ken likes to laugh at himself on occasion. However, his greatest gift might be his ability to get his three-month-old grandson to laugh.

Planning for Success Starts with a Strong Foundation

In times of crisis people often ask, “How did we get here and what do I do?” The current business landscape is quite challenging to say the least. One of the biggest decisions Practice Owners have had to make is what to do with their people. Even while adhering to the shelter-in-place orders many states have mandated, some Practice Owners have still been able to keep people employed and working on projects at home. But many employees have been laid off or furloughed, waiting to return to work as companies take advantage of government assistance programs. Everyone needs to keep front of mind that while employees are laid off or furloughed (and therefore not being paid), they cannot perform any work-related duties.

As Owners take advantage of the programs that allow them to bring back their staff, they should ask themselves: 1) What have I learned from this experience? and 2) How do I prepare for the future? Working with their Consult YHN Account Manager, Owners need to define their comeback plan, considering:

  1. How do I review and reset the “catch up” goals necessary to recover lost business and hit our 2020 financial targets?
  2. How will business be different and what will we need to do to prepare to compete more aggressively for customers?
  3. How do we help every employee fully understand his/her role in achieving organizational success?
  4. What should we do now to develop the skills and increase the individual productivity of each employee?
  5. How do we train our team to capture more “opportunities” while still providing the highest quality of patient care?
  6. How do we create the staffing and scheduling capacity to best serve customers and drive revenue and profit?

Consult YHN is ready to help every practice with all six items. A key vehicle through which we do this is by providing weekly role specific training to improve individual skills that drive revenue and profit. Now is the time to build a strong foundation and train your staff on the skills which will make them more productive and efficient. Even if your staff is currently on furlough, we encourage Owners to join our teletrainings now in order to learn our approach and ensure accountability once employees are back in office and able to join us.  In order for practices to thrive in a post COVID-19 world, each staff member, including Owners, must be ready and able to contribute more than they ever have before.

Many companies may utilize online courses that cost money, an unattractive or even unviable option as they try to control and cut expenses during COVID-19. As members of Consult YHN, you can leverage our teletraining courses without any additional expense.

While this era of social distancing makes classroom events impossible, the Consult YHN teletraining program uniquely allows us to deliver high quality training for every role in your practice including Providers, Front Office Professionals, Directors of Operations, Practice Development Representatives, and Owners.

Led by our Account Managers via Skype, our teletraining program focuses on:
  • All the Right Things behaviors and scripting
  • Skill development to support organizational goals
  • KPI tracking
  • Best practice sharing
  • Peer networking
  • Addressing the needs and expectations of the post COVID-19 customer
We’ve all heard the old saying “when life gives you lemons you make lemonade.” The current situation is definitely a lemon, but there is a silver lining. The shelter-in-place orders mandated by many states provide practices the opportunity to step back and improve the processes, systems, and skills of the people in their organizations. It gives Owners a chance to determine what they want their business to look like when we emerge from this pandemic. We are ready to partner with you. Take a look at our weekly teletraining schedule and choose which events work best for you and your currently employed staff. As you bring people back, make our teletraining program part of their “onboarding” process. Our new world requires all of us to think differently about what it means to be prepared even in the most challenging times. Prepare your team to take on this and any future challenge.

About the Author

Kenneth Gregory joined Consult YHN in 2014 and currently serves as a Training Manager in the West Region. He is a retail veteran, having previously worked for such giants as Target, Starbucks, and CVS in multiple leadership roles. Ken rarely puts pen to paper but is always thinking about how to make businesses thrive by leveraging the best asset within their four walls: their people. He works with field staff but is equally comfortable in front of audiology practice employees at all levels. Ken also loves an audience and enjoys being a classroom facilitator. While taking topics like this seriously, Ken likes to laugh at himself on occasion. However, his greatest gift might be his ability to get his three-month-old grandson to laugh.

Four Steps to Create a Dream Team

The most important asset that you have as a business owner/manager is the people that work for you. The lesson I’ve learned from any underdog sports movie (i.e. The Mighty Ducks, Dodgeball, Cool Runnings, Step Up 2, should I keep going?) is that you can take a ragtag group of misfits and turn them into winners as long as they have the right attitude, an intense training montage, plus a leader and/or purpose that motivates them. But it doesn’t just happen in the movies—I’ve seen it done in clinics all over the country.
Here’s what it takes to build your own dream team right in your own practice (no sports equipment or rigorous physical activity required):

Step #1: Hire for capability and train for competency

This is the “attitude” element of our underdog team analogy. Soft skills like emotional intelligence and the ability to make good decisions are paramount to professional success. Regulating emotions and correctly interpreting the verbal and nonverbal behaviors of others is a key strength in building rapport and trust with patients. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, 57 percent of senior leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills. An employee with a growth mindset has the capability for lifelong learning, which is at the core of agility, flexibility, and innovation. Training for competency comes in at Step 3.

Step #2: Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Vision – Share the company’s purpose. Make sure every employee understands the company’s mission, values, and vision. Working from a shared philosophy for a common cause gets people excited about their jobs. When should you do this? I’d recommend annually or semi-annually during a company meeting.

Expectations – The behaviors and outcomes that you want from your staff must be spelled out, in writing. There are two reasons for this. First, they can’t read your mind. Second, they probably aren’t going to remember a passing conversation that took place between seeing patients and/or answering phone calls. Let’s face it, most of us can’t remember what we ate for dinner two days ago or even how old we are (admit it—you have to pause and think about it for a second). Expectation conversations can be kicked-off during a company meeting and then should be reinforced during one-on-one meetings between your staff and their direct supervisor. If your practice doesn’t have designated direct supervisors, it needs to be defined – even if it’s that two employees officially report to the business owner.

Feedback – Feedback must be behavior-based and timely. Provide it the moment that it’s applicable (if appropriate) or shortly thereafter. Changing behaviors in your staff is kind of like raising kids. We must be patient, we must be consistent, and most importantly, we must look in the mirror to consider which of their behaviors might be reflections of our own (eek!). My four-year-old is notoriously bossy. At any hour of the day, I may hear her walk into the kitchen and demand: “I’m thirsty. I need milk!” My routine feedback (after a deep breath) is always, “Don’t you mean; ‘May I please have some milk?’” It didn’t take a sit-down feedback session, but she knows that I believe there is a better way to handle the request. So, if you observe an opportunity to make suggestions for improved behaviors, do so while the situation is fresh in both of your minds (but not in front of others—embarrassing someone is bad for morale). These verbal feedback opportunities can be reinforced with written reminders or formal performance reviews as well.

Accountability – The best tool for accountability is a Daily Huddle when everyone on the team comes together to discuss how they will pull their weight in accomplishing the businesses’ overall mission/goals that day. Those underdog teams who end up victorious don’t adopt an ‘every man for himself’ attitude—they rally together before every play/inning/period to talk about each person’s role and how they’ll work together. Your business’ day should be no different.

Step #3: Invest in employee development

Developing your people doesn’t have to be a significant monetary investment. It could mean setting aside the time to allow them to take advantage of Consult’s Telelearning and Employee Development Programs (EDPs). When they take part in training courses, ask them to come back and report on at least one takeaway from the session. If you’re expecting them to change behaviors post-training, encouraging continuous long-term improvements is a better strategy than expecting radical overnight success. If you hire the right people with a growth mindset, you can train them to do the job the way that you want them to do it.

Step #4: Recognize accomplishments (big and small)

When your staff does something right, don’t let it go unrecognized. Remember my daughter’s demanding ways and the immediate feedback that I’ve been giving her? Well, there’s hope for her yet. Now when she walks into the kitchen, four out of five times she’ll say, “Mommy, may I please have some milk?” To which I respond: “Thank you for asking so nicely, yes you may!” With that one sentence, I’ve given feedback, recognized her accomplishment, and made her feel good about herself, therefore increasing the likelihood of her continuing to behave in this manner. How do you apply that to your staff? Perhaps you might buy the office lunch if they meet the prior month’s sales goal. Or it could be as simple as saying, “I heard how you handled that phone call. You do a great job representing us over the phone. Thank you, keep it up!”

You might be thinking ‘four steps – easier said than done.’ The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. The details within all of these steps are what the Consult YHN Account Managers help practices with every day. So, if I could add one final step it would be:

Step #5:  Ask for help! That is why we’re here, after all.

About the Author

Ridgely Samuel joined Consult YHN in 2005. She has held several positions within the sales and operations teams but has found her passion for developing others in her current role as a Training Manager. Ridgely has experience working as a financial analyst for a former Fortune 500 company, holds a degree in Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt. When she’s not working or acting as a chauffeur for her two daughters, Ridgely can be found relaxing in a hammock with a novel, tossing tennis balls for her dog, or paddleboarding on the lake.

Driving Your Team to Peak Performance in 4 Easy Steps!

My grandmother was a strong, opinionated woman who was always good for a quote. One of the things she always said was, “As much as things change, the more they stay the same.” As a child, it made little sense to me but as I grew older, I recognized the true genius of those words.

I’ve worked for a number of organizations, large and small—from quick-serve restaurants to electronics retailers to healthcare providers. As different as they were, there was one thing that was consistent: the better the people within the organization performed their individual jobs, the better the company performed as a whole. And the best leaders in those companies were the ones who identified how to get the most out of their people; in some cases getting more from the employees than they believed they were capable of giving. It’s simply about driving peak performance.

Driving peak performance of an employee is similar to what a coach does for an athlete. The athlete may have the talent, but talent isn’t always enough. A great coach brings out the very best an athlete has to give. Think about the world’s greatest athletes and consider where they might be today if they didn’t have someone who pushed them beyond what they thought were their limits.

The question is: Who is responsible for bringing out the best in your people? If you haven’t figured it out by now, the answer to that question is simple—yes, it’s you!

Why It’s Important

First, a talented and skilled workforce is the lifeblood of every organization. Companies are quickly learning the importance of having the right people. Talent is one of the last frontiers for differentiation. Any company can have a patent or produce a product. The value you create for a customer is directly linked to the value of the talent you employ. It takes talent to market the product, sell the product, and to serve customers. So, in an industry like hearing healthcare where products and prices are similar for most businesses, the biggest differentiation between competitors is: the people.

Second, is due to the “war for talent.” The country is close full employment; with the current unemployment rate a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. This indicates that anyone who wants a job most likely has one. This means that retaining your best talent is critical because replacing them has become increasingly difficult. The individuals on your team need to feel valued. The best way to do this is by providing feedback on their performance, praising them when they do well, and coaching them in areas where there’s room for improvement.

How to Implement

So, how do you do it? Just like a coach, it’s about giving consistent feedback that can be acted on right away. Most of us are familiar with giving feedback in the form of an annual performance appraisal, but a process known as Performance Management is different.

Words that describe the performance appraisal process include occasional, formal, structured, and standardized. It’s all about what’s been accomplished and is strictly a history lesson. Performance Management, on the other hand, is described as continuous, informal, flexible, and customized. It’s all about making progress, focusing on the future, and helping a person reach his or her full potential.

Performance Management Cycle

For example, most performance appraisals are conducted annually, and while that’s better than nothing, a format that provides more frequent feedback would be an improvement. Your employees are an integral and indispensable part of running your business efficiently. That’s why keeping them continuously informed on how they’re performing makes them better and therefore your business better.

Using Performance Management, you can ensure that your employees not only fulfill their responsibilities but also do so to the best of their abilities and meet your expectations. This level of performance is realized by monitoring and developing the desired traits and skill, rating their progress, and rewarding them for achievements.

The Performance Management Process

  1. Involve Employees in the Planning Stage
    Involve your employees in the planning process. When will you meet? How often? How will their performance be measured? This will help boost their morale and confidence and avoid any communication gaps.
  1. Track the Progress of Your Employees
    Measuring the performance of every employee is also important. It lets both parties know what progress has been made and what improvement must take place.
  1. Give Regular Feedback
    Talk to your people more, not less. Observe them while they’re performing assigned tasks and give them feedback right away. Meet with them more often, perhaps quarterly. Don’t forget to document every discussion.
  1. Do a Yearly Review
    The performance appraisal doesn’t go away—it becomes part of the performance management process. But think about how much easier it’ll be now that you’ve been discussing their performance all year long.

This might seem like a lot to do on your own. The good thing is you don’t have to—Consult YHN can help you put together a process for you and your entire team.

Here’s what it looks like:

 Performance Management Process

This process works across all industries and organizations. Businesses might be different, but the importance of people is constant. It’s been that way and in our hyper-competitive climate, it’s not likely to change. Looks like my grandmother understood this – I guess she really was a genius!

About the Author

Kenneth Gregory joined Consult YHN in 2014 and currently serves as a Training Manager in the West Region. He is a retail veteran, having previously worked for such giants as Target, Starbucks, and CVS in multiple leadership roles. Ken rarely puts pen to paper but is always thinking about how to make businesses thrive by leveraging the best asset within their four walls: their people. He works with field staff but is equally comfortable in front of audiology practice employees at all levels. Ken also loves an audience and enjoys being a classroom facilitator. While taking topics like this seriously, Ken likes to laugh at himself on occasion. However, his greatest gift might be his ability to get his three-month-old grandson to laugh.